What do you see when you read the newspaper? What do you hear when you listen to the radio? Does the nightly television newscast reflect the world around you?
One of the most challenging aspects for journalists delivering news – especially in a market as diverse as Hamilton and its many amalgamated communities – is anticipating how a story, a photo or a sound bite will be received by your audience. A reporter or editor covering an issue strives to present all sides of the story; good journalists take their game to the next level by turning the spotlight back on their work to see it through the eyes of those it will impact.
When crafting an article or laying out a page for publication, every decision impacts the way the story will be received. Why include this quote and not that one? Why place importance on a certain photo? Does the headline skew the article?
At a community newspaper, the editor is often taken to task by readers who want to know why their story hasn’t been printed or why their organization’s work hasn’t been recognized. Often, the answer is simply that no one told us about it.
Media outlets receive a barrage of information every day, from PR firms, news services, local police and fire media officers…the list goes on. Our reporters are also busy digging up leads at meetings and events. But just as often, a phone call from a mom or an email from a teacher leads us to a great article.
Since November, I have been attending meetings of the Hamilton Media Advisory Council. Made up of representatives from the city’s diverse communities and its major media outlets, the group works to bridge the gap between the media and the community we serve on issues relating to racism and diversity. The sessions I’ve attended featured lively discussion on a range of issues, from national coverage of the Middle East conflict to the portrayal of the Idle No More protest.
Currently, HMAC is looking for people who want to join the conversation. In addition to planning its May 23 “Story Meeting” at the Hamilton Spectator that gives groups and individuals the opportunity to pitch their story ideas to local media leaders, the council is looking for new voices.
Potential members reflect the racial, religious, ethnic and cultural diversity of Hamilton and have strong community service orientation. The group meets each month and there is a two-year term commitment. Those interested in becoming a member can obtain a complete list of criteria and an application form by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected candidates will be asked to attend a panel interview.
In the meantime, if you have a story idea you’d like to see covered, give us a call or drop us a line. We may or may not be able to accommodate all requests but one thing is for sure: it won’t get in the paper if we don’t know about it.
Brenda Jefferies can be reached at email@example.com or 905-664-8800 ext. 339.